Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) – sounds like the trailer for a thriller movie.
When we consider this little acronym is used to describe our reality, it can be somewhat overwhelming.
What do we need to not only survive these challenging times, but thrive in them? What do we need from the people working in our organisations? And how do we cultivate these attributes to give our organisations and our people the greatest opportunity for success?
Thriving in a VUCA world requires:
– A clear, common, and compelling purpose everyone works towards
– Strong collaborative relationships (internal and external)
– Engagement and motivation
– Good health and high energy
– A positive, can-do approach
– Agility, flexibility and resilience
– An environment and culture in which all of the above can flourish
The challenge we have is that it is hard to hire for all of these attributes, and even if we do find someone who fulfils this demanding criteria, these are not static attributes; they can bloom or wither with time. Which is why we must continuously evolve our strategy for maintaining these attributes within our organisations. The great news is that there is one factor that provides the foundation upon which all of these things can evolve and be maintained and that is wellbeing. Even when the going gets tough, a person with good wellbeing will weather the storm more easily and be able to continue making high-value contributions. If there was ever a time to make wellbeing a strategic driver of business success, now would be it.
Some tips for you to consider as part of your thriving in a VUCA world strategy
– Build trust and cohesion through meaningful and supportive relationships
– Create a space to air concerns, worries, and discuss the risks and opportunities the context is creating for individuals, the teams, and the organisation
– Replace defeat with proactivity
– Reframe worries as risks and then get to work on mitigating them, prioritizing the greatest risks according to likelihood and impact
– Eradicate the drama (there’s plenty of that already)
– Tensions are high during these VUCA times. It is easy to add drama that will only exacerbate the situation. Instead, we need calm, supportive, collaboration towards our common goal. Eradicate the blame game and start channelling that energy into driving success and accomplishment by always asking yourself and your team “what is the next best thing we can do to progress towards our goal?”
– Promote and reward actions of collective wellbeing and individual self-care, even if that means actively identifying and then removing the red tape, policies, and bureaucracy that are proving to be unhelpful limiters in our VUCA context.
– Rules created in 2018 or earlier should be audited, reviewed, and adjusted accordingly.
– Managers start leading: give your team the space to thrive on their own terms through increased autonomy and ownership. Resist the urge to solve every problem and answer every question directly. Instead coach your team to solve for themselves and in time you will unburden yourself and your team from a dependent relationship that is frustrating and slowing down the pace of progress and success. You want strong, independent teammates, not weak, helpless, and scared rabbits who freeze with every passing headlight.
– Slow and steady will win this race: drop the false sense of urgency, the stress-inducing arbitrary deadlines, the bunfight for resources, and the 60-hour weeks. Do things more carefully, more deeply, and more effectively, aiming for sustainable, long-term results, not quick fixes that simply create another pile of work down the line. Set individual and agreed team boundaries and stick to them.
– Fuel the positivity: celebrate wins (personal and work), however small. If they are progressing us towards our goals, they should be recognised.